Taking counsel: A building permit is not always needed when dividing premises

  • 2006-07-19
  • by Nijole Vaiciunaite
In order to build a new structure (e.g., an office building, a dwelling-house or a bakehouse), the following formalities need to be carried out: a building design must be made according to a set of design conditions issued by a municipality administration and a building permit must be acquired; after the building is built, cadastral measurements must be carried out, and a cadastral data file must be formed; the building must be accepted as fit for use and registered in the Real Property Register (hereinafter 's the Register) as a separate object. Data about the building and its owner are indicated in the Register.

As long as the building belongs to one owner, there are no problems. However, there might be cases when a builder/owner 's e.g., a bakery with a confectionery 's later decides to register them as two separate objects and to sell the confectionery premises. Or if two friends build a dwelling house and are registered as its joint owners but later decide to partition off the house and to register two flats instead. There also might be an opposite situation, when one person buys several flats or premises and wants to join them and to register as one object. Yet another: an owner of office premises agrees to sell one office room to an owner of a neighboring office so that he could enlarge his office 's i.e., neighbors want to carry out an amalgamation (partitioning off a part of one real property object without forming a separate real property object and attaching it to a neighboring real property object).

In the said cases 's when dividing a registered real property object into separate real property objects 's partitioning off parts of a jointly-owned registered property and forming them as separate real property objects, joining separate registered real property objects into one or amalgamating real property objects, new objects must be formed and registered (e.g., two flats instead of one house, one flat instead of several ones, or 80 square meter and 120 square meter offices instead of two 100 square meter offices, etc.) In these instances owners often ask whether it is compulsory to prepare a building design and receive a building permit 's in other words, what formal actions must be taken. An answer to this question depends on whether a reconstruction or major repairs are needed for a building (premises).

In case if for a formation of new real property objects a reconstruction or major repairs are needed (building a new entrance, destroying a part of a retaining wall between rooms, etc.), all formal actions described in the beginning must be carried out.
If there is no need for construction work or simple repair work is enough and purpose of premises is not changed (e. g. building an internal partition, walling up a door in an indoor wall, etc.), a procedure of forming new objects will be much more simple:
1. If an owner wishes, a scheme (design proposals) of dividing or partitioning off, joining or amalgamation can be made;
2. Cadastral data files of all newly-formed objects are prepared;
3. Newly formed objects (buildings, premises) are accepted as fit for use;
4. Newly formed objects (buildings, premises) and their owners are registered in the Register.
Thus in the last cases, there is no need to apply for a set of design conditions, and preparation of a building design and a building permit are not needed as well.

Nijole Vaiciunaite is an advocate at Jurevicius, Balciunas & Bartkus, a member of Baltic Legal Solutions, a pan-Baltic integrated legal network of law firms including Teder Glikman & Partnerid in Estonia and Kronbergs & Cukste in Latvia, dedicated to providing a quality 'one-stop shop' approach to clients' needs in the Baltics.